17-year-old Simone Ridinger from Sherborn, Massachusetts, was getting ready to join her loved ones at her family’s home in Martha’s Vineyard for Labor Day Weekend on September 2nd, 1977.
Simone had finished her shift as a waitress at the Rainbow Restaurant in Natick, Massachusetts, around 3:00 p.m. After work, she got changed and immediately started looking for a ride so she could hitchhike to Cape Cod and catch a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard to close out the summer with her family.
This wasn’t Simone’s first time hitchhiking, as she was known for her free spirit and independence.
“She hitchhiked everywhere, to and from work, to and from school,” said Detective James Godinho, who took over Simone’s case in 2014.
Although this hitchhiking trip was longer than Simone’s everyday journeys, with Cape Cod being 60 to 70 miles away from the Sherborn area, her parents weren’t too alarmed when they noticed she hadn’t arrived at their home on Martha’s Vineyard right after work because of how frequently she traveled.
It was thought Simone may have stopped along the way and visited friends she knew in the nearby village of Hyannis Port or even decided to skip the trip entirely. But when Simone’s parents returned home nine days later, and there was no sign of her, they began to panic and contacted the police.
For years, there was no indication of where Simone had gone, as her co-workers claimed they never saw the car she got into after work the day she went missing. For nine years, no progress was made in the search for her until a 79-year-old man came forward with an important piece of information.
This man had seen an article about Simone’s disappearance in the newspaper and told police he may have given her a ride that Labor Day Weekend. On September 3rd, 1977, he was on his way to Osterville, Massachusetts, and was pulled over by a state trooper who had a teenage girl in his car.
When the state trooper found out where he was headed, he asked the man if he’d give the teenager a ride since she was headed in the same direction. The man agreed and allegedly dropped off the teenage girl at the Hyannis Airport Rotary Club, where she could have gotten on a flight to Martha’s Vineyard.